BMC Speedfox 27.5 Trailcrew - first ride

Playful and nimble 150mm trail machine

In the days leading up to the third round of the Enduro World Series in Scotland, BMC invited Bikeradar out to the Tweed Valley, where the race was soon to be staged. There, the team introduced us to a new bike: the first BMC to feature 650b wheels.

Hailed as a “shift in philosophy” for BMC, this new steed is not designed for racing. BMC believes that 29ers are perfect for second-shaving, but with this, the aim was to create a fun, fast trail bike rather than a thoroughbred racer. We’ve been sussing out this new ride on the familiar twisty trails of the Tweed Valley to see how it really performs.

Featuring 150mm of travel front and rear, the Speedfox 27.5 Trailcrew is aimed at the trail or all-mountain rider who simply wants to wring maximum enjoyment out of their riding. In addition to the smaller wheels, BMC has tuned the suspension kinematics to sacrifice a little efficiency in favour of a plusher action. Combining this with a short chainstay length, roomy top tube and low BB height, BMC aims to deliver a fun and nimble ride quality.

The bmc speedfox 27.5 trailcrew 02 in all its glory on an unusually sunny scottish hillside:
The bmc speedfox 27.5 trailcrew 02 in all its glory on an unusually sunny scottish hillside:

The XL bike we rode belonged to Francois Bailly-Maitre and had some non-stock spec alterations

Spec highlights

The 27.5 Trailcrew will be available in two models. The 02 model sports a carbon front end and some high-end componentry including a SRAM X01 drivetrain, a custom-tuned Cane Creek DBInline shock and RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper post. The 03 model uses an alloy front end, with slightly lower spec componentry including a Shimano SLX / XT drivetrain and a Fox Float shock. Both share an alloy rear end and the formidable RockShox Pike RC fork.

It’s nice to see sub-50mm stems becoming more common on bikes of this travel. When combined with the fairly long front-centre, this really contributes to the confident handling of the bike. The 750mm bars will be wide enough for most too.

The SRAM X01 drivetrain has proven to deliver top level performance on a range of bikes and the Rockshox Reverb Stealth seatpost is class-leading too. The Shimano XT Trail brakes offer great power and famed reliability, though they don’t necessarily gel too well on the bar with the SRAM shifter and dropper remote.

Suspension wise, The RockShox Pike RC fork – as most will know – offers superb bump swallowing and line-holding performance, while the Cane Creek shock allows for unparalleled tuning options (though the bespoke shock tune means it can be a fit-and-forget item if you prefer not to bother).

I found the stock tune a little fast in the rebound after adding a little extra pressure, but the base-settings are otherwise nice and supportive, yet, thanks to the revised kinematics, impressively plush and supple. The DT Swiss E 1700 Spline ONE wheels offer a 25mm internal width: enough to cope with the vast 2.4 Onza Ibex treads. The use of a bash ring is a rare sight these days, but it suggests BMC is thinking of the end user and the longevity of the bike. A nice touch.

A wide(ish) bar and short stem are welcome sights on any trail bike:
A wide(ish) bar and short stem are welcome sights on any trail bike:

A wide(ish) bar and short stem are welcome sights on any trail bike

As I require an extra-large frame, I simply had no choice but to ride the personal bike of BMC team rider, Francois Bailly-Maitre. It is a tough job, this.

Bailly-Maitre’s Speedfox Trailcrew differs from the production version because of his particular range of sponsors. A 160 mm Fox 36 fork, Shimano gearing, brakes and wheels, as well as Continental rubber differentiate it from the production bike. The shock, however, was replaced with the stock Cane Creek Double Barrel inline model.

On the trail

The bike has a particularly progressive leverage curve that compensates for the shock’s linear spring curve – which proved mighty effective on the trail. The bike was impressively resistant bottoming out despite several hard landings.

BMC’s APS suspension system has been adjusted to suit the philosophy of this bike. A low degree of anti-squat means the shock’s climb switch was necessary to keep it from bobbing when really putting the power down, but the flipside of this kinematic compromise is a noticeably supple and active rear end. Whether climbing or descending, the suspension was able to track the ground admirably, offering superb traction and comfort.

On technical trails which were familiar to our test rider, the bike was allowed to shine:
On technical trails which were familiar to our test rider, the bike was allowed to shine:

On technical trails which were familiar to our test rider, the bike was allowed to shine.

The low (430mm) bottom bracket was notable too. On the one hand, I found it easy to clip pedals when pedalling over rough ground, but on the other, the bike feels very stable on steep terrain and agile in the bends – the low bottom bracket certainly contributes towards this. Along with the long front-centre length, it promotes confident handling when things get steep. Meanwhile, short (428mm) chainstays and low centre of mass help with quick direction changes on tight trails.

It’s worth noting, though, that the longer than stock Fox 36 fork and excellent Continental Project Baron front tyre certainly would have contributed to the ride characteristics on my particular bike.

Summary

BMC has set out to create a playful and nimble trail-bike – quite a departure from their bread and butter of wagon-wheeled racers. After riding one (albeit with a non-stock spec list) it’s clear that it has made a superb breakout into this genre.

Thanks to its fairly aggressive geometry, progressive yet supple suspension and a spec sheet which ticks-off a range of known performers, it’s proven to be a nimble and capable playmate, remaining poised and agile on some tight and technical trails we know well.

Availability and pricing

Speedfox Trailcrew 02: £3,800 / €5,599 / US$5,899

Speedfox Trailcrew 03: £2,250 / €3,699 / US$3,899

Expect the first Speedfox Trailcrews to be hitting the dealer floors during July.

Complete bike spec

Speedfox 02 Trailcrew X01

Speedfox 03 Trailcrew SLX / XT

Frame material

Carbon / Alloy

Alloy / Alloy

Sizes Available

XS / S / M / L / XL

XS / S / M / L / XL

Fork

Rockshox Pike RC 27,5 Solo Air 150mm

 Rockshox Pike RC 27,5 Solo Air 150mm

Shock

Cane Creek DB Air Inline

Fox Float Performance Series 3-Pos DPS

Gearing

1x11 

2x10

Chainset

SRAM X01 34T

Shimano SLX FC-M617 36-22T

Cassette

SRAM XG-1175 11spd 10-42T

Shimano CS-HG50 10spd 11-36T

Brakes

Shimano XT BL/BR-M8000 Trail 203/180mm

Shimano SLX BL/BR-M675 203/180mm

Handlebar

BMC MRB01 Carbon 750mm

BMC MRB02 Alloy 750mm

Stem

BMC AMSM02 45mm

BMC AMSM02 45mm

Seatpost

RockShox Reverb Stealth

Fast Ace Dropper 125mm

Saddle

Fizik Gobi M7

Fizik Gobi M7

Wheels

DT Swiss E 1700 Spline ONE

Shimano HB-M618 / DT Swiss E512DT

Tyres

Onza IBEX FRC60 27,5x 2,4 / Ibex FRC120 27,5x2,4

Onza IBEX FRC60 27,5x 2,4 / Ibex FRC120 27,5x2,4

Seb Stott

Technical Writer, UK
Seb is a geeky technical writer for BikeRadar, as well as MBUK and What Mountain Bike magazines. Seb's background in experimental physics allows him to pick apart what's really going on with mountain bike components. Years of racing downhill, cross-country and enduro have honed a fast and aggressive riding style, so he can really put gear to the test on the trails, too.
  • Discipline: Mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: Steep!
  • Current Bikes: Focus Sam 3.0, Kona Process 111, Specialized Enduro 29 Elite
  • Dream Bike: Mondraker Crafty with Boost 29" wheels, a 160mm fork and offset bushings for maximum slackness.
  • Beer of Choice: Buckfast ('Bucky' for short)
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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